How To Build a Resilient Workforce

How can your business thrive in an era of constant disruption? The key to its success is your employees’ resilience. 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, resilience is “the quality of being able to quickly return to a previous good condition after problems.” It’s the ability to cope with adversity and hardship, and it’s an important skill that helps you overcome challenges and work through any setbacks you may face.

Benefits of workplace resiliency: Engagement, retention, innovation, reduced burnout, vulnerability detection.

Workplace resilience is the difference between a floundering business and one that grows and thrives. According to a recent PwC survey, business leaders are well aware of the competitive advantages resilience brings, and 89% said it was “one of their most important strategic organizational priorities.”

Having the ability and confidence to maintain resiliency through disruptions requires the foundational elements of resilience. But what are these elements, and how do we build them into our teams and culture? 

Let’s start by identifying what a resilient workforce looks like.

What Is a Resilient Workforce?

Hubspot defined workplace resilience as “a group of employees who feel stable, secure, and capable of handling a workplace’s challenges, daily stresses, and organizational changes without losing engagement or motivation.” So, what does this look like in real time? 

Resilient employees develop strong connections with their colleagues. This fosters a sense of belonging, and most employees thrive when they have connections with their peers. 

Being a team player who’s ready to do what it takes to move the team forward and create win-win solutions is a sure sign of resilience. Employees understand that creating a positive atmosphere is just as important to productivity as showing up every day.

Resilient employees also have excellent communication skills. Their teams tend to have productive discussions that can resolve conflicts without needing to involve HR. This helps to promote trust in teams, which is another hallmark of resilience. This is instrumental in enabling peers and the organization to reach their respective goals. 

The Benefits of Resiliency in the Workplace

The benefits of a resilient workforce can’t be overstated. A resilient team leads to improvements in the company’s profit margins and client satisfaction. Resilient teams also generate more innovative ideas and have higher employee retention.

When employees are able to bounce back from mistakes, waste is reduced, and fewer tasks have to be repeated. This not only leads to higher profit margins; it also leads to better client satisfaction since work is done well the first time. 

If engagement is high and employees feel safe in their work environment, they’re more likely to come up with ideas to save on costs and improve customer happiness. These innovative ideas can come in the form of new designs, money-saving measures, or company practices. 

There’s also the issue of retention. Many employees tend to leave their current business because they find better opportunities or pay elsewhere. Resilient workers are more likely to stay in their current workplace, even if the chances for better opportunities and better pay arise. This is because those with higher resilience experience less overwhelming stress. Even when they do experience stress, they handle it better. This, in turn, reduces burnout in workers and makes them happier in their position.

There’s also a noticeable improvement in both work produced and motivation with resilient employees; in general, they’re more productive. Also, those that have their employer’s support tend to have more dedication to the company. When resilient workforces feel more supported, they tend to offer more ideas and adapt to new situations better than those who don’t feel supported.

Not only does a resilient workforce help to detect vulnerabilities in their company, but they improve team members as well. Each employee learns to practice self-care and be mindful outside of work. They’re better able to bounce back from any situation, which means fewer chances of bringing outside issues into the job. 

Resilience in the workforce has another added benefit. With a resilient team and dedicated leader, cybercrimes and other such disruptions don’t slow the company down and will instead allow them to bounce back in a shorter amount of time.

How To Build Resiliency in Your Workforce

The first step in building resiliency is to fully and properly train employees. An employee should have enough training so that they feel like they’re able to do their duties on their own. They also build sustainable skills that will help them far into the future.

Business leaders may also want to take time to educate employees on the benefits their work provides others, as people like to find greater meaning in their jobs. The more they know about the difference they’re making, the more enjoyment they can find in their work. 

Another important step in increasing employee resilience is keeping employees up to date on important information. If big changes are occurring, or if the company is going in a new direction, employees should know about this before the changes occur. 

Being open to employees’ opinions and ideas is another crucial step. By asking a team what they need, their thoughts on the changes, how to make the transition easier for them, and then implementing some of their suggestions, an employer creates a space for collaboration and trust

Even if a company isn’t entirely sure how to start this process, just learning to keep an open line of communication is often enough to begin building workplace resilience.  

If a team feels like there are no opportunities to grow in their organization, they start to lose motivation. It doesn’t matter if a business tells its employees over and over again that they’re valued; if they find themselves constantly ignored for promotions or see outside hires being picked for better positions instead of them, they start to lose commitment. This makes it tough for building organizational resilience since they’re less motivated to tackle any challenges that arise.

As the business grows and positions open up, it’s necessary to focus on hiring from within the company first. An employer needs to take the time to consider existing employees for promotions and interview them before moving on to outside hires. 

Of course, a promotion isn’t all an employee needs. Leaders must also account for bonuses, flexibility in hours and time off, higher pay, and office space. 

Everyone gets stressed and overwhelmed at some point. An employee needs to know that they have a community around them that has their back in those moments. Having a team that’s willing to support each other is vital. 

It’s also important to offer regular feedback, focusing on opportunities for improvement as well as providing praise when the employee does their job well. Offering recognition for good work creates a sense of pride in an employee. That pushes them to work harder, as they know they’ll receive recognition for their efforts. 

Promoting health is another crucial aspect of resiliency. Many businesses push their workers to the breaking point, offering few paid days off and insufficient mental health care. A business that wants to maintain resiliency through disruption needs to get away from this mindset. If they cannot show care for their employees, how can employees be expected to show care for their jobs?

A company needs to provide enough days off so that an employee doesn’t have to choose between going to work sick or taking days off. The company shouldn’t apply pressure or guilt regarding these matters. 

It doesn’t matter whether they’re physically sick or mentally unwell that day; employees should always feel that they can take a necessary day off without the risk of losing a promotion or other benefits.

Companies should also focus on understanding that their employees have a life outside of work. They may need more flexible hours or days off to take care of sick family members or to deal with something unexpected. According to the Harvard Business Review, employees with healthy work-life balances tend to be more productive. 

Companies don’t have to do this alone, either. Many companies use technology-powered resilience to help their companies stay afloat when times are tough. Some examples of this resilience are security measures to fight against malware, automatic work done by software or programs, and systems to keep payroll, vendors, and important information organized.

Technology-powered resilience allows businesses to have all of their important information in one place. This allows businesses to find problems and create solutions faster. It also allows for continuous testing of systems and redundancy in case something goes wrong.

Some businesses believe that this technology is more than enough to have everything run smoothly. But when something stops working, there’s often no clear chain of command with employees, and projects start to fall into chaos. This is when a resilient team starts to shine. 

Combining technology-powered resilience and employee resistance means that a company has a second layer of defense in times of disruption. The employees also have something to support them when something goes wrong, which gives them more confidence to keep going, even when mistakes are made or disruptions occur. 

The Importance of Resilient Leadership

Some employees are naturally resilient and support their employer better than others, no matter the situation. However, it’s not only up to the employee to have high resilience.

Even an employer that only hires resilient workers will notice when their productivity, growth, and turnaround aren’t as good as they can be. A resilient worker may find themselves held back or facing stress they can’t bounce back from if they don’t have a leader who’s also resilient and able to support them. 

A leader that isn’t resilient hurts productivity because they might push their team too hard. Resilient workers that have no support and don’t know if their leader has their back may actually lose their resiliency over time. 

A resilient leader pushes their team to do better and embraces setbacks with a positive mindset without taking it out on the team. They’re better able to guide workers into becoming more resilient by staying positive, offering suggestions, and promoting otherwise-overlooked methods for growth. They must stay close to their team while still maintaining their leadership position. 

A good and resilient leader understands that their role is more to guide their team rather than dictate their actions. They’re also there to provide support when their team is struggling or when they feel overwhelmed with the current workload. They encourage their team to take breaks for mental and physical health. 

A resilient leader creates an environment that encourages resiliency in their team. Workers that are already resilient grow even more, and even those that aren’t resilient can flourish under a good leader.

When problems arise, a resilient leader is what holds the team together and supports employees enough that they stick around instead of looking elsewhere for new opportunities. A resilient leader needs to have confidence and emotional fortitude to be able to lead their team with a clear head and calm demeanor, even when things aren’t going according to plan. 

Without these characteristics, a leader will bring their team down, causing their workers to fear an uncertain future and not feel confident in their work. Morale can quickly drop during these times and actively reduce the team’s resilience. 

How to Maintain Resiliency

Once a business builds resilience, they must work to maintain their resiliency. Just as a company wants its employees to continue to grow and improve, a company must be willing to do the same for its employees. It must acknowledge its mistakes and work to make adjustments that better support its workforce. 

One way to do this is to keep an open line of communication. If business leaders take the time to understand the problems facing their employees, listen to their complaints, and make changes to rectify issues, then they can help them stay resilient. 

Even when good employees retire and new teams come in, the workforce’s resiliency should remain the same. To keep it that way, organizations must be sure to never become complacent. Keeping a consistent focus on fostering resilience creates a community of strength and growth that influences new workers as well. 

A company must always keep its goal in mind too. It needs to remember why it started focusing on resiliency in its workforce and the positives that came from it so that it’s never taken for granted. 

Since a resilient worker does better when they know their work is making a difference, talking about the people helped, the number of happy or returning customers, or any good reviews received can promote further resilience and appreciation for their work. 

Organizations must be sure to improve whenever possible. Just because a few of the steps that we’ve discussed worked for a few years doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work forever. As the company expands, so should the benefits and support leaders provide to their teams.

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